Cool tool report The Thermapen from Thermaworks.

Cool tool report The Thermapen from Thermoworks.

One of the keys to steaming milk properly, perhaps the most important key is figuring out what temperature to transition from stretching the milk and then most importantly figuring out when to stop steaming the milk.

Most experienced veterans eventually figure out how to do this simply by gauging the temperature with their hands, but this is not a skill that is easy to hone if you have not first gotten used to figuring out what those key temperatures feel like and the only way to do that, or at least the most obvious way to do that, is with a thermometer stuck in the milk.

There is a minor problem with that, which is that most thermometers lag behind the actual temperature by a bit and so even if you stop at the right temperature, the temperature will still rise quite a bit, especially if your machine is a great steamer.  

Now the usual solution to this is to cut the steam a fixed number of degrees before the actual desired temperature.  This works, but is awkward.  

An even better solution, but an expensive one, is to use a really, really good, really, really fast instant read thermometer.  In particular the Thermapen from Thermaworks.

These are the favorite instant read thermometer of Cook’s Illustrated.  If you have ever watched one of their shows you have seen them using these constantly.  I was lucky enough to get one as a gift once and after a lifetime of hating instant read thermometers for their lack of accuracy I love it.  

The truth is that the first one I got did not work well, but then I got into grilling and smoking meat and everywhere I looked people were raving about them.  I called Thermaworks knowing my pen was no longer under warranty and they agreed to send me a replacement for free (I wouldn’t have asked if I hadn’t known that it was broken already when it was still under warranty).  Sure enough it has been true love ever since.

My mother in law fell in love with mine and got herself one and I think she may like it better than her kids or pets (or son in law).  She even uses it to take her temperature when she is sick.

I wouldn’t buy it just for milk, but if you have other uses for it, it is hard to beat! 

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